Minister of Human Capacities Zoltán Balog has written a letter to United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, thanking her for taking note of the amendments to Hungary’s Act on Higher Education, and for indicating the States that have the right to enter into negotiations.

The U.S. Secretary of Education sent a letter to Mr. Balog and Minister of State for Education László Palkovics in mid-June, to which the Minister replied on Wednesday. Copies of the two letters were provided to Hungarian news agency MTI by the Ministry of Human Capacities.

In her letter, Betsy DeVos thanked Mr. Balog for the information she had received from him in April with regard to the amendment of the Act on Higher Education and the situation of the Central European University (CEU). She also wrote that she was aware that the new regulations also affect other institutions of higher education with links to the United States.

In the United States, education is primarily the responsibility of federal states and local authorities. Issues relating to the legal status of most institutions of higher education and their right to issue diplomas fall under the sphere of competence of member states, the Education Secretary explained. According to the information provided, all of the American institutions performing higher education activities in Hungary have received their certificate or license from the relative State authority, and have also received an accreditation from an organisation that is recognised by the Secretary of Education.

In her letter, Betsy DeVos took note of Mr. Balog’s April suggestion on examining the possibility of concluding an international agreement with the Ministry of Human Capacities. She added, however, that member state-level authorities are the suitable partners for negotiating such an agreement.

The U.S. Education Secretary wrote that as far as she was aware the Hungarian Government has already begun contacting the member states in which the institutions were accredited.

Betsy DeVos expressed her hope that the outstanding issues would be successfully clarified in light of the information provided concerning the commencement of talks and the important and long-established role that institutions of higher education play in relations between the United States and Hungary.

In his reply on Wednesday, Mr. Balog thanked the U.S. Education Secretary for her kind reply and for taking note of the amendments to the Act on Higher Education. The Minister of Human Capacities informed his counterpart in Washington that officials from the states of Maryland, Massachusetts and New York had already indicated their intention to enter into negotiations, and representatives of the Hungarian Government are in contact with them.

The Minister expressed his hope that “this complicated legal issue can be resolved to everyone’s mutual satisfaction at the earliest opportunity in view of the fact that American institutions of higher education operating legally in Hungary help reinforce Hungarian-American relations”.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)